With so many genres at your disposal in today's video game market, sometimes we forget the classic or more obscure sub-styles of gameplay that set up the foundations for gamers everywhere. Something as simple as Tower Defense, which is generally a sub-genre of strategy-style gameplay, could easily be forgotten when compared to some of the intense over-the-top action games that we have seen over the years. But with Lock's Quest due out on the Nintendo DS later this year, we decided to take a moment to reflect on how Tower Defense as a genre has shaped the way we play video games today, and take a look at some of the classic TD games you may have missed.
Tower Defense games are all about... well, defending with towers. Specifically, setting up guns, turrets and other types of defense towers to try and prevent attacking enemies from successfully destroying their target. It's a fairly simple gaming mechanism, but despite being simplistic by nature, there have been multiple spins on the genre that keep the gameplay fresh and fun - most importantly, the main objective requiring you to defend your base in question creates an exciting tension, where you'll really need to multi-task throughout the gameplay experience to make sure your defenses are successful against the enemy.
A familiar classic that has been ported to many different consoles, including being available for download most recently on the PlayStation Network, is Rampart. Originally released in 1990, you as the player must defend a set of castles by shooting and attacking any attacking forces whilst also making sure to repair any damage that is done to the castles in question. The maintenance of this specific territory on the map which contains your castles and cannons is integral to surviving and gaining victory, as if it is destroyed, it's game over. Bouncing back and forth between an attacking round and a repairing round, the game was one of the first of its kind and included a lot of strategy, given that you were always on a time limit to complete your goals.
The Tower Defense style of gameplay was brought to a more mainstream level years later when it was featured in certain maps on popular RTS games including Starcraft, Age of Empires II and WarCraft III in the Frozen Throne expansion. However, one of the most popular games to feature the Tower Defense style has got to be Desktop Tower Defense, a free downloadable flash-based PC game that was released in early 2007. The map of the game itself resembles an actual office desktop, and the goal is to place a variety of different guns and towers on the battlefield to prevent enemies with different types of skills from crossing from one side to the other. While very basic, the game quickly becomes frantic and addictive, as you try to manage your resources to most effectively place weapons to defend your turf. After only a few months, Desktop Tower Defense had been played over 15 million times, which is incredible, and shows not only the simple yet appealing qualities of the game, but also of the Tower Defense genre in general; there are numerous downloadable Tower Defense style titles available, spawned by its popularity.
One of the more recent games that is reminiscent of TD is PixelJunk Monsters, released on the PlayStation Network earlier this year and even featured an expansion pack which was released at a later point. With the goal being to stop enemies by placing defense towers around their castle, the game had a modern graphical style and gave you the option of upgrading your statistics and weaponry based on the gems and coins that were dropped by defeated enemies. With over 36 levels now available for the game, it's easily one of the best value downloads on the PSN, and makes the Tower Defense format seem fresh and new due to the cool art style and pick-up-and-play nature of the title.
Coming out towards the end of the year, Lock's Quest is being made by the same developer that brought you the breakaway Nintendo DS hit Drawn to Life last year. With a creative art style and innovative stylus-based gameplay, Lock's Quest looks to be another quality title from the team at 5TH Cell; we had some hands-on time with the game recently, and without giving too much away, we're happy to say that the game translates the Tower Defense style effectively and stylishly on the Nintendo DS - keep an eye out for our exclusive preview later this week.